DENVER The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are always going to be fierce rivals.
But those intense emotions are now replaced by the pain that death can bring to those it leaves behind.
Dr. Jerry Buss, majority owner of the Lakers who was vital in reviving them into an NBA power, died on Monday morning.
He was 80 years old.
The Boston Celtics are no different than the rest of the NBA community in mourning the news of his passing.
Paul Pierce, who grew up in nearby Ingelwood, Calif., has fond memories of Buss.
"He's part of the NBA, what this NBA is all about," Pierce said. "Just bringing the Lakers franchise to where it is today. He's pretty much an icon as an owner. Everybody knows who he was. My heart goes out to his family."
Pierce said he had met Buss a few times.
"He'd see me. It didn't matter if I played for the Celtics," Pierce said. "He always had kind words for me, asked me how I was doing. He's just one of those joyful owners."
Buss bought the team in 1979, and soon transformed them into one of the more exciting, successful franchises in the league.
Since the Lakers have been under Buss, the team has won 10 championships.
"He had a great impact on the league and most importantly, on the Lakers," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "When he bought the team, they changed quickly. He bought into the 'Showtime' stuff."
But what Lakers Nation clings to more than anything, is the 10 titles won under his watch which is greater than any team since 1979.
"That's ... you don't have to say much more than that," Rivers said. "He'll be missed."
One of the first challenges for the Lakers is trying to figure out the pecking order in terms of decision-making responsibilities.
Jerry's son Jim, is vice president of player development while Jerry's daughter Jeannie, is executive vice president of business operations. And that doesn't factor in Mitch Kupchak who is the team's general manager.
"His leadership was huge, with Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak," Rivers said of Jerry Buss. "Now with him gone, that leaves a void for them."